Short Squeeze On Diesel?

Good morning!

Happy Friday!  Another wild week in the energy markets.  Crude prices continue to rebound higher as traders shake off demand headwinds from China and their lockdowns.  The hot potato is still the Ukraine/Russian war.  Germany is warming up to cutting off Russian crude imports.  As the oil market continues to try and balance with a disciplined OPEC+, supply disruptions from Libya and others, and the US not able to ramp up as quickly as our government wants, higher prices for crude will continue to be supported in the near term.  Russia is also demanding payment in rubles and shutting of natural gas supplies for those who don’t pay.  Some are worried the payment in rubles could spread over to crude as well.  The instability of Russia’s action with payments is increasing volatility on all commodities.  The good news is that OPEC+ is staying true to production increases the best they are able and the US is plowing ahead with adding more oil rigs.  Germany is also opening back up the North Sea for crude harvesting.  In addition, refining capacity across the globe is also expanding.  So although we are in for a nasty ride of volatility and high crude prices for 2022, I see much lower prices going into 2023 and beyond.  Even though supply is quite bullish now, we are facing some bearish sentiments on the horizon.  The value of the US Dollar is shooting higher which usually lowers energy prices because crude settled in dollars.  And some economic headwinds are forming in the US with inflation on all goods and services, potential housing crisis looming, and a labor supply problem that is not getting better.  If a recession hits the US at some point this year, crude prices will most certainly drop.

In local news, the refinery issue in Chicago came from Bp Whiting, the largest refinery east of the Rockies.  The production shutdown caused a massive spike in Chicago sport price.  Unfortunately, the Group had been struggling with supply, so a shifting of barrels was not as easy as usual.  Then, a short squeeze developed on diesel barrels as an arbitrage for the May to June contract shift developed.  The east coast diesel cost is almost $1/gallon higher than Chicago market!  Pricing diesel spot price right now is like throwing darts at a chalkboard.  And as I have been saying, if you care about the state of the economy, watch diesel prices, not gasoline.  There is still enough money in the system yet for consumers to afford these gas prices for a while.  But if diesel prices continue to climb at these current rates, prices of everything will continue to go up.  Diesel literally fuels our economy.  So until the May contract closes out and June opens next week, we are in some choppy trading waters.  I would not be surprised to see diesel retail prices in our market eclipse $5/gallon next week and gasoline retail eclipse $4/gallon.  If the arbitrage calms down on the spot market, we could see prices ease and not break through my predicted ceiling.  Once again, I hope I am wrong!  🙂

Propane prices jumped last week as the winter weather continues to drag on.  Although national supplies are starting to rebuild, the issues with the EU needing so much LNG is putting pressure on potentially increasing propane exports as well.  I get worried that the US will over-promise and deplete our much needed reserves at home.  But we still have plenty of time.  For now, I don’t expect propane to move much lower in price.  Next season’s contract pricing will probably come out in June this year.  So stay tuned for more info!  If you are a will-call customer, remember to check your tank!  This cold weather is surprising a lot of customers and causing runouts!  🙂

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to give us a call.  Have a great weekend!

Best regards,

Jon Crawford

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